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《和英対照・天声人語》
2002.02.04 

 English
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 日本語
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Unpleasant drama that leaves a bad aftertaste


後味悪い「けんか両成敗」 田中外相更迭劇

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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's midnight news conference was strewn with cliches. What stuck in my mind afterward were hackneyed expressions such as “remedy the situation,” “normalize (the situation)” and “the responsibility for causing the confusion.” These are typical examples of Nagatacho jargon.

Experience tells me that politicians usually resort to this sort of talk when they want to obfuscate the situation and evade responsibility.

What was the real cause of the mess that forced the foreign minister and her vice minister to be fired? And precisely who is responsible for the mess? The public still remains in the dark, but the government says the case is closed now that both parties have been punished. This is hardly a satisfactory settlement.

I recall an episode from my childhood. I was having a tiff with a friend, and our teacher punished us both without hearing either of us out. I was outraged because I thought the teacher was being terribly unfair.

It appears, however, that settling a dispute by punishing both parties is an old, documented tradition. A 15th-century government proclamation warned sternly that anyone who got into a fight was “punishable by decapitation, irrespective of which side was right or wrong.”

I should imagine the purpose of prescribing such an extreme punishment was to intimidate the public, and perhaps it did deter people from engaging in disputes. Still, I cannot laud the custom of punishing both parties without any effort to determine which side was really culpable.

Regarding the dramatic dismissal of the foreign minister and her deputy, some people suggest the two actually “stabbed each other” as if acting out an old-period drama. Hearing such an expression causes me to feel that Japanese politics has reverted to its old style of a decade ago. For all its much-touted “crisp and clear “ posture, the Koizumi administration appears to have caused politics to regress in a single sweep.

I believe the Koizumi administration will be forced eventually to pay for punishing both parties since it did not even bother to determine the culpable party. What the public witnessed was an unpleasant drama that has left a bad aftertaste.

(Jan. 31)





 いわゆる常套句(じょうとうく)の連発だった。深夜の小泉首相の記者会見で耳に残ったのは、いつか聞いたような「事態の打開」「正常化」「混乱を招いた責任」などの言葉だった。永田町用語というのだろうか、こうした言葉がつかわれるときには用心した方がいい。これまでの経験では、たいてい「事態」や「責任」をあいまいにするときにつかわれた。



 こんどの外相・事務次官更迭では、混乱の原因がどこにあるのか。異常な事態をだれが招いたのか。それらが明確にされないまま「けんか両成敗」のかたちをとった。釈然としない。



 子どものころの記憶がある。友だちと言い争いをしていると先生がやってきた。事情を聴きもしないで「けんか両成敗」と宣言した。2人とも罰を受けた。何と理不尽な、と憤慨した記憶である。



 この「両成敗」は、ちゃんと記録に残る伝統的裁き方らしい。15世紀のお触れ書きにあって、けんかをした者は「理非」に関係なく「斬罪(ざんざい)」だというから厳しい。たぶん、威嚇効果をねらったのだろう。予防には効果があるとしても、裁きとして「理非」を問わないのは困った伝統だ。



 こんどの更迭劇では「刺し違え」という古めかしい言葉もささやかれている。そうした言葉を聞かされると、一昔前の政治に逆戻りしたような気がする。国民へのわかりやすさを売り物にしてきた小泉政治が、いっぺんに旧来型の政治に戻ったような気分だ。



 「理非」を問わない「両成敗」のつけは、いずれ小泉政権が払わされるのではないか。後味の悪い更迭劇だった。



(1月31日)



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